Gardener pitches benefits of bees
Middletown apiary enthusiast to study beekeeping in Germany
Thursday, April 13, 2006
The resulting photo, a close up of several honey bees crawling on a glistening comb, landed on the cover of a national bee-keeping magazine and has since caught the eye of bee hobbyists worldwide.
Apiary enthusiasts from Montana to Australia, likely impressed with the unusual jeweled appearance of the comb, have requested poster-sized copies of the image, Traynor said. Earlier this week, one man called Traynor to say the photo was the best cover he has ever seen on the magazine and to request a copy.
The photo has an array of crisp colors and appears digitally enhanced, but Traynor, 24, is adamant that it is genuine. The professional photographer and writer believes the rare purple color may have originated from the variety of pollen types in flowers in her backyard garden.
Traynor, author of several articles in various bee-keeping magazines and a certified master gardener, said she is on a mission to increase awareness on the medicinal benefits of honey, as well as to promote the importance of the bee-keeping industry in the U.S.
To do that, she’s traveling this summer to Germany. Traynor this year received the German Chancellor Scholarship, one of 10 such research scholarships awarded annually to high-potential leaders in a variety of fields. The program aims to strengthen ties between Germany and the U.S. through professions or studies.
Traynor’s scholarship is the first for avian research.
With her husband, Michael, a commercial photographer and photo instructor, Traynor will tour small villages while completing her bee-keeping research.
Traynor recounted her motivations for applying for the scholarship. Why, Traynor said she wanted to know, is honey so popular in Germany? How has the German bee-keeping tradition thrived into one of the oldest, and most noted, in the world? And how can the United States improve its promotion of bee-keeping and local honey use?
She plans to travel throughout Germany to interview beekeepers and document their operations. She said she plans to explore why Germans consume almost three times as much honey per person as Americans.
Master gardener Devra Boesch said she was impressed to learn of Traynor’s plans to work in Germany and expand on her gardening specialty.
‘‘For her to do something like this is amazing,” Boesch said. ‘‘I don’t recall that anybody’s gone to that level.”
Boesch said master gardeners are required to complete 20 hours of community service per year as well as 10 hours of advanced training and education in gardening. The Traynors are slated to speak on bee-keeping at a future monthly meeting of the county’s master gardeners.
A graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio, Traynor earned her bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing.
She stumbled into her bee-keeping career after placing hives in her backyard merely to aid in flower pollination. Now, Filckerwood Apiary on Bidle Road, overlooking a scenic Middletown Valley, is home to 20, 90-lb., hives in green wooden boxes in the Traynors’ backyard.
Traynor said she and her husband are attempting to design a lightweight style of hives.
‘‘People tell us they go to the gym,” Traynor said, ‘‘we go to the hives. It’s certainly a workout. They’re so fascinating when you look in there.”
The duo, both master gardeners, often together enrolls in bee-keeping courses, such as a queen-rearing course at the University of Nebraska last year.
Traynor said she will continue to contribute to magazines and, upon her return from Germany, write a book on the cultural significance and medicinal benefits of bee-keeping.